‘Roadrunner’ gets another shot at state rock song
By NBP Staff | October 19, 2015, 16:36 EST
Does Massachusetts need an official rock ‘n roll tune? State Sen. Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth) thinks so. He wants it to be “Roadrunner,” by Natick native Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. And so do thousands of other people, judging from the likes of a Facebook page set up to back the effort, which began, in the legislature at least, with Marty Walsh, now Boston’s mayor.
Walsh proposed enshrining Roadrunner in 2013 while still a state representative from Dorchester, at the urging of publicist Joyce Linehan. The bill failed to come to a vote before the legislative session ended, but not before generating plenty of attention in the media. Now there’s a new version of the bill and it will have an official hearing before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight on Tuesday afternoon in the State House.
Richman, who has performed several versions of the song, included various references to mundane but well-known bits of the Bay State, from Route 128 to Stop ‘n Shop and the Turnpike, which have endeared it to many in Massachusetts. It’s an ode to the joy of the open road as it was in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Boston’s western suburbs late at night, when, as Richman memorably says, it could be a time for “going faster miles an hour.”
At the time, in early 2013, Walsh told the now defunct Boston Phoenix that he expected to be criticized for the bill. But he defended the move, even though it wasn’t his idea:
“This is about acknowledging an artist from Massachusetts who’s obviously had a very good career and one of his masterpieces outlines our commonwealth,” Walsh said to the Phoenix. “Why not recognize the people that have helped us become such a great place?”
Hedlund has gained co-sponsors for the bill in Reps. David P. Linsky (D-Natick), Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell). So this time maybe it will be more successful than it was in the last legislative session. Yet still the question may linger for some over the time spent in this endeavor, along with the effort put into and the hours consumed by some of the other 52 measures to be taken up at Tuesday’s hearing, which begins at 1 p.m. in room 222.
For instance, there’s an act to make New England clam chowder the official state dish of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (S 1713), sponsored by state Sen. Michael F. Rush (D-West Roxbury). This measure may face competition from a bill (H 2752) from state Rep. Paul R. Heroux (D-Attleboro) to make clam chowder the state’s official appetizer, which will also be heard during the session.
While there are proposals with more serious purposes mixed into the hearing list, many appear to be more whimsical in nature, such a measure from state Rep. Stephen L. DiNatale (D-Fitchburg) that would designate the Spring Peeper as the official Massachusetts amphibian. Yet another, from state Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham), would enshrine gingham as the state textile. One would create an official state seasoning. And there’s one to specify an official county song for the state, “14 Counties of Massachusetts,” as performed by a group of third and fourth graders in Waltham.
For a full list of the proposals to be considered by the committee, click here.